Mobile carriers to list actual data speeds

The communications ministry is set to call on three major mobile carriers to advertise their smartphone data transfer rates in terms of actual speed, rather than only the theoretical maximum, according to sources.

Mobile carriers can currently list the maximum possible transfer rate, whereas actual speeds tend to be much slower.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry plans to ask the companies to disclose the effective download speeds that have been gauged at 1,500 locations in 10 cities across the nation, such as "19.8 to 33.0 Mbps [megabits per second]."

The ministry will present draft guidelines on the measure at a meeting of an expert panel on Monday, with the guidelines expected to take effect as early as the year-end, according to sources.

Under the envisaged plan, the companies would be asked to indicate the middle 50 per cent range for all tested data as the effective speed, in addition to the theoretical maximum.

The measure would prompt mobile carriers to release more detailed bandwidth data on their websites and elsewhere so that users in different locations can make comparisons.

Maximum theoretical speeds - such as "up to 150 Mbps" - have conventionally been used as data transfer rates for smartphones and other devices.

However, actual speeds are affected by variables such as line congestion and local topography.

Many consumers have complained that the displayed bandwidth information is unhelpful and that actual download speeds are slower than those advertised, the sources said.